Charity, Volunteering Type and Subjective Wellbeing

  • Samuelson Appau
  • Sefa Awaworyi ChurchillEmail author
Original Paper


We examine the impact of volunteering and charitable donations on subjective wellbeing. We further consider if the model of the volunteering work (formal vs. informal) and the geographical location of the charity organisation (local vs. international) people donate to has any impact on subjective wellbeing. Using UK’s Community Life Survey data, we find that volunteering and engagement in charity are positively associated with subjective wellbeing, measured by individual life satisfaction. We show that while there is a positive effect of volunteering and charity on life satisfaction, the level of utility gained depends on the type of charity or volunteering organisation engaged with (i.e. local or international). Specifically, donating to local (neighbourhood) charities as opposed to international/national charities is associated with higher wellbeing. Similarly, engaging in informal volunteering, compared to formal volunteering, is associated with higher wellbeing. To explain our results, we use the construal-level theory of psychological distance, which suggests that people think more concretely of actions and objects that they find spatially and socially close.


Charity Volunteer Wellbeing Life satisfaction Psychological distance 

JEL Classification



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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics, Finance and MarketingRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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